RD&T contributing author, Rick Hanson, shares 7 interesting ways the brain inclines the mind to joy.
1. The mind and the brain are mainly (and perhaps entirely) a single unified system.
Almost every – and perhaps every – subjective state is correlated with an objective, material brain state.
Other than a transcendental factor – call it God, Spirit, Energy, or by whatever name – by definition, what else could be going on than the functioning of matter?
I happen to believe there is indeed a mysterious transcendental Something infusing objective and subjective reality, whose influence is subtle, profound, and full of grace. Nonetheless, it is clear to me and most neuroscientists that most, if not all, of our thoughts and feelings, darkest passions, and loftiest dreams, poetry and imagery, chess gambits and baseball statistics, and recipes and quilt patterns and earliest memories of snow – and all the other textures and aromas and shades of being alive – require and consist of neurological activity in a mind of joy.
Think of it this way: everything we are aware of, including our own sense of self, has a one-to-one correspondence with underlying, physical, brain structures and processes.
Just like a letter to friend or a picture of a sunset on your computer requires and represents an underlying pattern of magnetic charges on your hard drive.
First, this means that, as your experience changes, your brain changes.
It changes both temporarily, millisecond by millisecond, AND – as we will discuss in a moment – it changes in lasting ways. For example, as just a sampling, researchers have found that:
- Different mental activities change brainwave patterns.
- People who meditate have more of the vital neurotransmitter, serotonin.